Disney World invited us to go experience the Rivers of Light Dessert Party at the Animal Kingdom. While we did not pay for this event the thoughts shared below are our own.
While every evening at the Animal Kingdom is capped with a showing of Rivers of Light, the dessert party is only on select nights. For now, the pattern follows the party falling on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Of course, dates and times are always subject to change. The Rivers of Light Dessert Party starts a little over an hour before showtime. So this means it will vary depending on the day you book.
I recommend arriving early so you can grab the best seats right along the balcony’s edge. The hour is more than enough time to munch on all the tasty treats and enjoy a few drinks. If you don’t care about seating then there is no need to rush to get into the party. It’s a guarantee that the food and drinks will be there waiting for you, no need to worry. So let’s dive into the logistics of the events, the food you can enjoy and ultimately if this experience is worth the extra cost.
The event begins at the Rivers of Light Asia Viewing Area terrace entrance, located across from Expedition Everest. As soon as you enter you can enjoy a buffet of themed desserts, savory snacks, and specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They have two balcony areas setup with high top tables where you can munch down on your treats from the buffet.
While the views are absolutely stunning, it was a bit of a bummer that the dessert party had no seating for the food portion. With this being an evening offering it probably means you previously had a full day of walking, enjoying the parks, so a comfy seat in my mind is essential. If you are in real need of a seat they will let you take your food to the reserved bleacher seats.
Buffet Items and Drinks
Let’s run down the full lineup of goodies offered at the Rivers of Light Dessert Party.
I was delighted that a cat offering started the lineup. First is these Tiger push cake pops. These are similar to the frosting filled cake pops you find in other parks. Since it was totally sealed this was an item I opted to bring back to the hotel room for a late-night treat. I feel like with these big buffets it’s hard to eat it all so I loved that this one worked as a to-go treat!
These little flower pots are called Pot de Creme and they aren’t a decoration! They are a pudding cup you can actually eat! If you are a fan of chocolate this is a must-eat for the party.
This display is my favorite of the whole buffet. These cups hold green tea cakes with a white chocolate tree of life on the front. The wooden holder for these cakes is almost a simplified carved version of the tree of life. It just so perfectly fits in for this show. If you aren’t a fan of green tea I would skip this one it packed a punch of flavor.
These pineapple bars are topped with an adorable depiction of Simba and Nala. I wasn’t sure if I would like these but the Dole Whip fan inside of me loved these tasty bars.
These are your standard cupcakes. It’s a vanilla cake with a vanilla frosting. I didn’t see much excitement in this one but it’s a great basic option for the fussy eaters and the kiddos. Of course like everything served at this party they are a beautiful addition to the spread.
Berries, candied nuts, and yogurt! It was a tasty treat that reminded me of a similar item that is served at the California Grill Brunch.
The savory items of the buffet is a selection of nuts and cheese. There was also a tray of blueberries and strawberries. I have to say I thought this spread was a little out of place. It was a cool evening when we went to enjoy the show but I would be a little skeptical of how the cheese would hold up on a hot summer night.
At last one of my surprise favorites was at the end of the buffet. These sugar cookies were a surprising win plus adorable and made for a great Instagram post.
The drinks are right off to the side at the end of the buffet and not to be missed! I instantly wanted to head for my favorite, Jungle Juice. But I did also try out Purple Lotus and it was a great drink too. Very sweet and sugary which is probably why I thought it was so yummy.
Oh, and how could I forget the ice cream! A wonderful server brings around this magical tray of treats on top of everything else! You can enjoy a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich, Mickey’s Ice Cream Bar and also Strawberry Bar.
Remember you can have as much of anything you want. The staff was so amazingly wonderful about getting us anything we would like.
Once you are done enjoying desserts you can head to the special section of seating for the show. We actually enjoyed staying in the balcony area to watch the show. It was something different than the typical view of the show.
Note that there is no reserved seating once inside. So you are free to pick whatever table you would like. In the seating area, they hold the first seven rows as reserved just for those who have dessert party tickets.
The dessert party costs $89 per adult (ages 10 and up) and $53 per child (ages 3 to 9), tax included. Gratuity is not included or required. (Pricing current as of February 2020).
If you are interested in adding this to your next Disney World vacation then advance reservations are highly recommended and can be made on DisneyWorld.com up to 180 days prior to the visit.
Rivers of Light Show
Of course, we would be remiss to do a whole review and not at least talk a little about the show itself. The show has gotten a revamp from its original opening to include more scenes from classic Disney movies. Of course, being a nature show these are all Disney animals it highlights.
The vantage point was a unique take from the standard bleacher seats I had watched the show in before. We were close to where a lot of the barges entered and exited the show which was fun to watch. It was like you got a peek of the behind the scenes.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!